NASHVILLE, Tenn. - As police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair, the people who knew him best are celebrating his life.
The 36-year-old McNair became a national figure during his college football years, playing at Alcorn State University in the early 1990s.
The cover of Sports Illustrated, issue dated September 1994, shows the quarterback with the phrase, "Hand him the Heisman", referring to the trophy awarded annually to the most outstanding player in collegiate football.
Cardell Jones was the head football coach at Alcorn State when McNair was there and spoke with News 2 Monday.
Jones said McNair had quite the influence on his college football program.
"Like I say, he really took our program to another level, especially nationally," Jones said. "During the time Steve played at Alcorn State University, we got a great deal of national attention."
Jones said when McNair played for Alcorn State he recognized his potential pro talent.
"I knew that we had to modify our offense because of the talent Steve had, and what we did, we really opened it up whereas he could fully utilize his talent," Jones said.
Jones said he will forever remember McNair's football talent.
"Well, I will remember Steve as being probably one of the greatest football players to ever put on a pair of cleats," Jones said. "I will remember him as being one of the toughest football players to ever put on a pair of cleats I will also remember him as being a great team leader, and most of all I will remember him as being a fine young man."
Jones said the last time he saw McNair was when he played in Nashville.
He said he was unable to make it to Baltimore for McNair's final two NFL seasons.